The number of successful escapes So far, it has been confirmed that 928 inmates attempted to flee the Auschwitz camp complex—878 males and 50 women. Poles were the most numerous among them, numbering 439. (with 11 women among them). The others came from 33 other countries: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine.
The largest group of escaped inmates was made up of Soviet citizens. They accounted for 810 people, or about 88 percent of all attempts. Next came Poles with 46 people and Germans with 15 people. The remaining inmates were citizens of other countries including Austrians, Belgians, Czechs, Hungarians, Israelis, Italians, Lithuanians, Norwegians, Slovaks, and Yugoslavs.
In addition to the inmates who managed to reach nearby towns and villages, several others succeeded in escaping from within the camp boundaries. These individuals could not be captured because they had no papers, no identity cards, no money, and no knowledge of German.
An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people escaped from the Auschwitz concentration camp during its existence. The majority were recaptured but around 400 are believed to have survived.
During the war, there were over 600 attempts to flee Canada, including at least two mass escapes via tunnels. Four German POWs were slain while attempting to flee Canadian prison camps. Three more people were injured. The last known prisoner of war was released in 2010.
In total, there were about 700 German prisoners of war in Canada at the end of the war. About 500 were captured in France and most were eventually returned to Germany. The other 200 were captured in North America. Of these, 95 were held in American prisons after the surrender and then transferred to British custody. They were all returned to Germany after the war ended.
There were also about 700 Canadians who lost their lives while serving their country during the war. About 550 were killed in action or died due to wounds received in battle. Another 100 soldiers lost their lives when their aircraft was shot down.
After the war, hundreds of former prisoners of war attempted to escape by sea but only four were successful. Two men drowned while trying to reach Florida and one each was caught in Maine, Massachusetts and New Brunswick. A fifth man may have reached shore in Nova Scotia but was later arrested for smuggling alcohol into Canada during prohibition.
The remaining prisoners of war were freed by advancing Allied forces after the conclusion of the war. One group was released in Belgium and another in France.
Only 2,222 of the hundreds of thousands of POWs sent to the United States attempted to flee.
Why did so few POWs attempt to escape? Many felt that fleeing was futile because they would be recaptured and executed on arrival back in Germany. Others feared being shot by their guards if they tried to escape.
Who were the most successful POW escapers? The majority of successful escapes were by men who were not considered a risk to security. They usually worked in low-risk jobs like kitchen staff or storekeepers.
The lowest recorded success rate for an escape attempt was from Stalag Luft I near Thornhill, Ontario. Only one of the 74 men who tried to escape managed to get away. He was captured after only 20 hours on the run.
The highest success rate was from Neuengamme concentration camp. Of the 890 men who attempted to escape, 730 succeeded. The remaining 160 men were either killed during their attempts to escape or were captured after short periods on the run.
How did the Germans stop POW escapes? Prisoners were often arrested when found wandering in the woods or found working outside of camp boundaries.
Despite the obstacles, 36 men attempted 14 separate escapes from 1934 until the jail closed in 1963. Almost all were apprehended or did not survive the attempt. The fate of three specific detainees, on the other hand, remains a mystery to this day. Here is how they fared:
John Anglin - The last prisoner to be officially released from Alcatraz, after 44 years in prison, was John Anglin. On May 22, 1979, he walked out of the front gate of the island prison and into history. He was never seen again. It is presumed that he died soon after his escape.
James Barker - James Barker was one of the original 33 inmates sent to Alcatraz. His stay there was much shorter than most others', only four months. In April 1934, he escaped with two other prisoners and went looking for food. They were all recaptured within a few days. Barker later confessed to police that he had helped them escape and was given a reduced sentence. He died in 1969 at the age of 42.
Richard Brian - Also known as "The Birdman of Alcatraz", Richard Brian was another young inmate at the start of his criminal career. He joined several attempts to escape from Alcatraz, but was always caught before reaching land. In October 1934, he managed to get away alone for about six hours before being recaptured.
The first escape occurred on July 6, 1940, at the very beginning of Auschwitz's existence. Tadeusz Wiejowski, a Pole, found his way out of the camp with the assistance of Polish civilian laborers. He escaped by impersonating a worker. After spending three days outside the camp searching for food and shelter, he was captured and returned to prison.
There were other escape attempts over the next few months, but they all failed. In September 1940, however, eight prisoners managed to flee from the main camp and hide in the forest. They survived by eating berries and roots and drinking water from streams until German soldiers hunting them down near Lvov captured five of them.
This is probably the first time that anyone has escaped from Auschwitz. The Germans put up posters offering a reward of $15,000 for information about the escapees. None of those who escaped ever came back to the camp again.
In November 1940, another group of prisoners attempted to escape. This time there were eleven people involved, including two women. They too were caught after only twenty-four hours outside the camp because they could not maintain their pace in the woods without help from civilians hiding them away from roadblocks set up by the Germans. This second group also included one Jewish man named Jakob Edelstein. He was the commander of the escape party and was chosen by the others to go first because he knew the forest best.